One Program at a Time:
Crouse Hospital Educates Numerous Health Care Providers on the Benefits of Massage Therapy
About Crouse Hospital
Prior to 2012, a member of our staff explained New York’s requirements for massage therapy continuing education. Given Crouse’s well-established educational program and facility, we moved forward with the idea of helping to raise awareness about massage as an Integrative Medicine modality. Administered by Dr. Scott Treatman, he agreed with the idea and offered support—and it was then we contacted NCBTMB to apply as an NCBTMB Approved Continuing Education Provider.
Shortly after, we started the planning phase of the program. Crouse has a large state of the art education facility that is home to our school of nursing and community education departments. Through these programs, we train future nurses, first responders, expecting parents, and others on various topics. It is also home to patient support groups, such as Pink Therapy and the Bariatric Surgery Support Group. With this program, we knew we would be living up to our Integrative Program ambitions—striving to make Integrative Medicine education and services available to patients and our community.
Our program is a hospital based program. We aspire to use the hospital setting to raise awareness about massage therapy as a partner in health and to foster a community outreach program. Our CEU program supports those goals. Through our program, our classes are designed to educate local LMTs and PTs about working with patient populations and major illnesses/conditions, including expecting parents, those who live with cancer, military veterans, and those live with obesity. Our classes host a clinical component—which provides great experience for LMTs and exposes the public to massage therapy awareness. After our classes are taught, we actively communicate with our health partners to let them know about massage and the therapists that can help their patients. Below are a few stories we’re happy to share of outreach in action...
Our Cancer Program
Late 2013 and even as early as 2014, a member of our staff learned when meeting with patient navigators, that they do not feel comfortable providing referrals unless they knew the therapists had professional training. Last year, some of our hospital staff worked to secure funding from the Komen Foundation to support a “Massage for Those Living with Cancer” class provided by Oncology Massage Associates with trainer Jean Van Etten (NCBTMB Approved Provider #153811-00) for 15 area LMTs and an acupuncturist. The students had to pay nothing for the class. In return, we asked that they provide three hours of community service massage. As part of that, we arranged for some of the students to visit the Pink Therapy Support Group in an effort to connect them with breast cancer patients. We’re happy to state that we even connected one of those therapists with a large women's health practice to offer onsite massage for their patients!
Caring Hands & Hearts Program
In addition, we have created a “Caring Hands & Hearts Program” made up of massage therapists and Integrative Health practitioners. Practitioners provide services for patient referrals, as well as at community events. One of the elements of that program includes support from St. Agatha Foundation, which sponsors/covers massage therapy (acupuncture, etc.) for women in CNY who are being treated for breast cancer. Since the start of this program in the fall of 2014, four area women are visiting the LMTs from the class regularly for massage. Needless to say, we are expanding that program!
Partnerships with Other Health Care Providers
Throughout this process, we have made connections with some of our health care partners—most of which have agreed to educate their patients about the benefits of massage. One such practice is a major mastectomy/reconstructive surgical provider. We've provided them with a list of area LMTs, Reiki and acupuncturists who specialize in working with folks with cancer. To kick off the program, we provided 15 gift certificates (the volunteer hours mentioned above) to share with their patients. The patient navigator for the practice has handed out the gift certificates and now recommends all her patients visit therapists for massage therapy as part of their overall health care. Those that are Crouse patients have the added benefit of support by the St. Agatha foundation. ALL of this was grounded by the Massage for Those Living with Cancer class. Now, we have earned the trust of the navigators as they recognize us a professional health care partner in health—a win for our hospital, but an even larger win for the massage therapy profession as a whole.
Our Veteran Program
Our team was challenged last year to find more ways we could make Integrative Health Services available to our local military veterans. We first connected with Clear Path for Veterans, a lovely local organization that embraces Integrative Medicine. When meeting with them, we learned they had a wellness program and that the participation from providers, especially LMTs, was not consistent. It appeared the LMTs were not prepared well to work with veterans and participation was not consistent or long term. We investigated this and found that LMTs wanted to help, but felt inhibited due to lack of confidence--hence, our Massage for Veterans class! We created this class, complete with two rotations last year (each lasting three months) with clinical experience. It has been an amazing experience for all!
At first, we struggled to fill spots as the veterans were unsure about massage. Now, we have a wait list and demand is GREAT! The LMTs have loved their experience, too. Some have learned a great deal about working with PTSD or Fibromyalgia. Interestingly, Clear Path has a Dogs to Vets program where dogs are assigned to serve vets who live with PTSD. Our massage therapists have learned to be flexible as some of the veterans' dogs attend the massage. Some dogs circle the table until the veteran relaxes, then the dog lies down and relaxes. This has been a helpful stress barometer for the LMTs, and has helped our program gain even more support!
Next Steps for Our Veteran Program
At this time, we are looking for develop a higher level class for female veterans living with Fibromyalgia and/or MST (military sexual trauma). This will be an effort we consciously work in collaboration with the VA and Clear Path. Every class and experience in our CEU program has created new opportunities for advanced learning and community outreach—and we are so grateful to touch so many lives!
Why We Are Proud to Be A NCBTMB Approved Provider
We are so grateful for all the NCBTMB Approved Provider Program has made available for us. NCBTMB’s APCE Program is a staple of our Integrative Medicine Program. Last year, the NCBTMB APCE Program empowered us to provide:
- 145 clinical hours to patients (while LMTs gained valuable experience!),
- Massage for People Living with Cancer created 48 hours of outreach for our community, and
- Our Gross Anatomy classes provided 12 hours of real experience working with human cadavers.
Even more, we have now made connections with major area medical service providers who now advocate massage therapy because they have confidence in us knowing we have high professional training standards. We cannot express our gratitude enough for the wonderful foundation NCBTMB has provided!
Why We Love Our Programs
Simply stated, we are in a central location (geographically and professionally). We are built on the faith of some amazing folks including Dr. Scott Treatman and Kathleen Miller. We don't just educate. We educate, provide real experience, expose patients to massage therapy, and promote massage therapy to medical providers in our community. Our relationship with our students doesn't end when class ends. Many of our students have become volunteers at Crouse, the Komen Foundation events, Clear Path for Veterans, and more. We've even hired a few of our students as class assistants (not TAs!). We've negotiated the placement of two students in a doctor's office. We serve as liaison between associate medical practice and students, setting up referral systems. We've secured funding to pay for massage for some of our patients. In the end, we've had multiple heartwarming stories shared with us that have inspired us all to continue building massage therapy programs that make a true difference.